The Hastings Prince Edward Public Health Unit may soon join forces with two other regional health units in Ontario, Canada: Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington Health Unit (KFL&A) and Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit. This potentially transformative move comes after a recent Board of Health meeting where a motion was passed to establish a Voluntary Merger Committee.
Exploring the Merger
The committee, which includes Medical Officer of Health Dr. Ethan Toumishey as a non-voting member, is tasked with examining the operational, financial, and programmatic aspects of the proposed merger. The aim is to create a proposal that aligns with provincial guidelines. This initiative is a direct response to a Ministry of Health announcement made in August at the Association of Municipalities Ontario conference about changes in funding and the way public health units are directed.
The proposed merger aims to create a unified health unit that serves a population base of over half a million people. The combined population of the three units is currently estimated at approximately 571,000. The merger exploration received unanimous support at the board meeting, signifying the high expectations vested in this initiative.
Each board will independently decide whether they wish to move forward with the merger. If greenlit, a proposal must be submitted to the Ministry of Health for approval by March 2024. This proposed merger, if successful, could potentially strengthen public health capacity to meet unexpected surges in demand and enhance delivery of core public health services.